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6 best practices for structuring a SMART SLA

IT Integration

Yes, you can negotiate the customized service level agreement you need to ensure solid IT services performance and availability – even for your hyperscale public cloud services.

Developing the SMART SLA your business needs – a service level agreement that’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely – begins with these 6 best practices:

  1. Find an IT services provider partner able to help you structure the SLA you want

    It’s a collaborative, multi-step process, so you need to be comfortable with your IT services partner and trust their information technology acumen.

  2. Conduct a detailed assessment of your IT environment

    Collaborate with your IT services provider partner to understand the requirements of your cloud services, IT infrastructure, internal processes, applications, currently delivered baseline service levels, and any new IT initiatives.

  3. Align your business strategies/goals and your IT strategies/goals

    Gaps between your company ’s business goals and its IT capabilities will deplete your bottom line. The right IT services provider partner can identify those gaps and offer cost-effective alternatives to close them.

  4. Establish your IT performance and availability standards and goals

    IT performance and availability standards may need to be granularly defined for different cloud environments, areas of the network, and specific applications. Criteria can include maximum throughput, bandwidth commitments, round-trip delay, jitter, and overall scalability. You ’ll need to identify factors that contribute to downtime and build application profiles to understand apps ’ network service level requirements.

  5. Determine your IT performance and availability metrics

    Tempting as it may be to measure and monitor everything you can, you ’re better off keeping it as simple as possible in your SLA to avoid unnecessary confusion and costs.

      Work with your IT services provider partner to make sure your SLA metrics…

    • Reflect the most important SLA outcomes;
    • Are set to reasonable, attainable performance levels via a predefined process (specified in the SLA);
    • Measure factors within the provider ’s control;
    • Do not duplicate each other; and
    • Are easy to collect, preferably by automated means.

    Typical SLA metrics to monitor include service availability/uptime, response times, defect rates, problem resolution times, and security (e.g., software patching, antivirus updates, data reliability, data preservation, data privacy).

  6. Ensure sufficient risk management via SLA clauses
      Your SLA should include clauses that address…

    • Escalation of performance issues;
    • Escape (early termination of contracts);
    • Transition to new providers;
    • Remedy (enforceable consequences for SLA noncompliance); and
    • Indemnification (protection from third-party litigation due to SLA noncompliance).

When it comes to service level agreements, the right IT services provider partner can help you figure out what you need and help make sure you get it.

Tim Burke
Meet the Author

Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.


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